Deadly Sitting

It can be deadly to be seated. Sedentary hours in a chair have been shown to shorten our lifespan and make us vulnerable to all manner of ailments.(1) Sometimes it is metaphorically "deadly" to sit down at my desk when more screen time will not serve me well. I will probably wander wherever the daemons of virtuality are designed to beckon. When speaking metaphorically of death, what passes is psychological, in this case my inner sense of purpose, belief in the value of incremental steps in proportion to my limits and too subtle to solve big problems all at once. Deciding What To Do Next can fall victim to an attention "deficit", "depression", or some less infamous but no less pernicious deadening of my sense of what I feel and feel called to do. Deadly. What if metaphorically deadly beliefs are psychologically linked to literally deadly behaviors and habits?

Once upon a time, I remember hearing "Sit Down!" screamed at each passionate advocate of social justice as they rose in turn to speak in a public meeting. If more activists "sat down" would there be hope for a global psychological shift from white supremacy, a change in the imagination that bends our shared experience toward justice for all? The literal deaths of persons are directly related to the symbolic life and death of Movements toward equity. If this is so, how can I remain seated? But what will I do when I stand up? Shouldn't I have a master plan first? Perhaps I should sit down to think it through. Otherwise, I might be vulnerable to embarrassment.

Standing up has its own sense and symbolic purpose. I can feel myself doing it, the change in my own literal and metaphorical balance. The balance of power changes when someone stands up in a group. Being seen standing up is a big deal, and sometimes your standing up remains private and less significant until you take it into the street. Literal and metaphorical standing up are not really discrete, only different in sense. Standing implies a different state of readiness for action, even if The Ultimate Fix is still a fantasy or not yet in sight or entirely clear. I facilitate those ready to learn about conflict and teamwork like a martial art--through the somatic (embodied) aspects of psychology. I call this Martial Nonviolence. When a group appears to reach a point of waning energy, an impasse, a familiar quagmire of some kind, I sometimes ask that everyone stand and remain standing until we find the way forward. Often that is enough.

Especially at this time in our nation's history, we seem to have no choice but to sit and literally wait. In many ways that is very sensible, especially as we #CountEveryVote. I let this piece of writing wait until after Election Day so that it would not be confused with Yet Another (exhausting but essential) Partisan Appeal and put to the side. If we decide to wait, let us use that time to briefly consider how our light is spent.(2)

Even should I be blinded by the moment, or the era, I will stand on my own two feet and be still, as necessary, but I will not wait in my heart. At regular intervals I will sit down literally, to rest, but not for long. Full of metaphors, Spirit will lift my literal body up again until our petty cruelties and habits of supremacy are mostly a memory. My imagination reaches into yesterday, today, and tomorrow with justice and a return to honorable dealing foremost in my mind as I work through conflicts within myself and with others. My soul makes meaning from every experience, so I practice consciously as I am able, careful to study and learn how to balance and stand upright. Let us practice this together as Conflict Done Well with victory defined, especially by anyone in public service, as everyone involved getting what they clearly need and a fair shot at what they want.


Brandon

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1. https://www.npr.org/sections/health-shots/2015/10/06/446295001/your-chair-is-killing-you-here-s-what-you-need-to-do-to-stop-it. Also https://www.popsci.com/science/article/2013-02/many-reasons-chair-killing-you/.

2. Milton https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/When_I_Consider_How_My_Light_is_Spent

 

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What follows is feedback about "Deadly Sitting gathered from responses. If you'd like to append your name, please sign in to edit this page.

 

"Beautiful email!"

 

"Thanks, Brandon, This hits home. I need to sit when I'm actually writing, but I do my best thinking when I'm in motion, standing up, heeding Spirit's call to stand up and move."


"we sit when we are silent. and we cannot be heard sitting. except in silence. thus all stand in the presence of the seated diety. Jesus did not sit. except at the silencing of the last supper. thus we say stand, and be counted. ============= I find I learn more wisely by letting go of what I thought I knew: thus I listen deeper at the font of others' experiences."


"Hey there, I’m writing to you because it’s clear from your writing and sending that you want to be heard. I’m not going to edit, just suggest. I think you are mistaking passion for clarity. This piece would have benefited from a week in the drawer followed by a re-writing. I’ve always known from my own writing experience that passion can seem scenic by night and cynic by day. And, forgive me, for I also remember how pissed off I became when my passionate writing was criticized. I’m also reminded of the words of that ole sage ex-friend of mine...when he said, “I can’t tell what he wants me to do”. I’m not at all certain that you know who your audience is. Just remember, in the words of that famous sea-food chef, “Even in the dark night of the sole, somebody gets to eat”.


"WOW! I love this piece. When I finished reading it I said, “That’s my Brandon!” Between you and me and the balance exercises you taught me, I have found myself leaning to the right physically (not mentally) both in my 10,000 steps a day and in sitting in my chair. That has caused physical pain on my right side. My...NP helped me with a stretch that relieves it, but your words help me with what I am wrestling with mentally (and physically). Thank you. Now back to this piece, may I share it with a group at [church] that I am on? It’s work is to look at [our] history...and why it is such a white church. We’ve delved into segregation of the schools, busing in the ‘60’s and ‘70’s, city policies of red lining and covenants in real estate, and we will have a presentation Wednesday on John Wesley and his mark in the church. We are working on what we are can/want to do next, and in the future to make it a more inclusive church. ... If you want to share this piece, would you be willing to let me send it...? Or you could send it and say I suggested it to this group. Thank you for being in my life. I love you."


"Very nicely said and thought provoking. Still life throws too much at me to think of something new. Hard enough wading through the swamp I’m in."